With new instruments on the way, music professor co-authors book on vibraphone performance
Professor of Music Dr. Paul Buyer has co-authored a book on vibraphone performance. The Art of Vibraphone Playing: An Essential Method for Study and Performance, was written with composer and percussion educator Josh Gottry and will be published by Meredith Music Publications in April/May of 2017.
“I’ve been waiting for someone else to write a book like this for years,” Buyer said. “Students have been playing vibraphone parts for many years, but they really don’t know how to play the vibraphone itself. And most vibraphone books that are on the market are oriented toward jazz, so this is meant to teach students in a concert setting, whether that’s symphonic band, percussion ensemble, private lessons, or orchestra, which is really where they start playing. Even marching band: those bands that have a front ensemble, they’re playing vibraphone, too.”
Gottry and Buyer researched the few vibraphone method books they could find, as well as some online video tutorials, which they integrated into the text. But the majority of the book is based on their experiences performing onstage and teaching in the classroom. “We’ve both been in numerous concerts where the vibraphone was featured,” Buyer said, “but a lot of it is our own original ideas, teaching strategies, and thoughts that we finally put down on paper.”
The book took a little over a year to write through collaboration that took place almost entirely through e-mail and Skype video sessions. Buyer wrote most of the text, while Gottry supplied both original music and transcriptions of existing classical and guitar pieces. Before submitting the manuscript for publication, Buyer and Gottry sought feedback from six highly regarded percussion professors across the country whose testimonials will appear on the back cover.
The authors intend for educators to apply this user-friendly method book in their classrooms: it contains etudes, exercises, and warm-ups, as well as solos, two-mallet pieces, and four-mallet pieces for students to explore.
Meredith Music published Buyer’s first book, Marching Bands and Drumlines: Secrets of Success from the Best of the Best, in 2009. “Meredith is always looking for unique books that really stand out in the market, things that no one else is doing,” Buyer said. “Again, this is a much needed resource in the percussion profession, and they really jumped at the chance to offer it. They do a great job with their printing and design. We’re really excited about how it’s going to turn out.”
On the heels of the book’s completion, the Department of Performing Arts will receive a new five-octave marimba and three-octave vibraphone.
“We were definitely in need of another five-octave marimba,” Buyer said. “We have one, and a few smaller ones. But most of the literature now calls for multiple five-octave marimbas, so there are a lot of pieces we cannot play in percussion ensemble that we’d like to. Also, the practice situation is very challenging: with only one five-octave marimba, only one student can practice on it at a time. Having two marimbas in two different rooms is going to double the practice access.”
The same went for the department’s vibraphone set-up. “Vibraphone is a similar situation: We have one good instrument, but a lot of the pieces require two or three. We’ll also double the practice access by putting two vibraphones in two different rooms.”
The instruments will be purchased with a grant from Clemson University Student Government. Performing arts students Dylan Holzheimer and Greg Freeman prepared a presentation for the Student Senate and helped write the proposal. Buyer lauds their dedication and hard work for making these new additions possible.
“These instruments are going to help recruit and retain students, and help them to practice and prepare,” Buyer said. “It’s going to be very inspiring and motivating for the students to want to learn how to play with the book and with the new instruments available around the same time. That’s exciting.”